Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Writer's Almanac from Tuesday, April 3, 2012, http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/

Glad sight wherever new with old

by William Wordsworth
Glad sight wherever new with old
Is joined through some dear homeborn tie;
The life of all that we behold
Depends upon that mystery.
Vain is the glory of the sky,
The beauty vain of field and grove
Unless, while with admiring eye
We gaze, we also learn to love.
"Glad sight wherever new with old" by William Wordsworth, fromSelected Poems. © Penguin Books, 2004. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The first truly portable personal computer was released on this date in 1981. The 25-pound Osborne 1, sold by the Osborne Computer Company, with two floppy drives, a five-inch screen, was a big success, selling 10,000 units a month.

The Pony Express began mail delivery on this date in 1860. The first mail pouch contained 49 letters, five telegrams, and a variety of papers. A rider would switch to a fresh horse every 10 to 15 miles; each rider rode a leg of 75 to 100 miles. Seventy-five horses were needed to make a one-way trip between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, a distance of 1,800 miles. At an average speed of 10 miles an hour, the Pony Express could cover the distance in 10 days.

The Pony Express, as it came to be known, had only been in operation for about 10 weeks when Congress authorized construction of a telegraph line to stretch between the Missouri River and the California coast. Once the telegraph connection was completed, the Pony Express became obsolete, and it folded in October 1861.

Today is the birthday of Washington Irving (books by this author), born in New York City (1783), who publicized his bookA History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by pretending it was written by a man named Dietrich Knickerbocker. He put out missing person notices and posed as Knickerbocker's landlord, threatening to publish the manuscript to cover back rent. The reading public in 1809 was intrigued by all the drama, the book sold very well, and Irving became the first person in the United States to earn a living by writing. He then wrote a collection of short stories under the name of Geoffrey Crayon, which included his stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle."

The outlaw Jesse James was shot on this date in 1882. Jesse had fought on the side of the South in the Civil War and after the war, formed a gang with his brother Frank which ranged all over the Midwest for more than a decade, robbing banks, trains, and stagecoaches. He was shot in his home in Missouri by a member of his own gang, Bob Ford, who did it for the $10,000 reward. Jesse James was standing on a chair, dusting off a picture on the wall, and Bob Ford shot him in the back of his head.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

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